8.18.2012

The Heterosexist Narrative

After battling the worst bout of writer's block I've had in a while, I finally rescued myself by coming to one of my momentous decisions: no more stories where love is a central theme, and no more sex scenes (unless they have a comical edge).

It has nothing to do with being a prude or anything like that; it has more to do with the fact that romance as we know it needs to take a holiday.

I feel - and this is just my humble opinion - that as we are seeing a stubborn whitening of everything in media, we are also seeing a stubborn straightening of everyone.  In addition to the obsession of showing white people in romantic relationships, I feel there's been an added emphasis on showing them in straight relationships.

In other words, not only is Hollywood pushing back against the growing number of people of color in this country, the country's own origins of color, and the dominance of color abroad, Hollywood is pushing back against the increasingly visible and vocal gay population which is rightfully sick and tired of second-class citizenship.

I once criticized the virulent prevalence of (heterosexual) love triangles in media.  They were popping up everywhere and turning no one on.  Now, it seems, "romance" has become a shameless plug in which women in particular are reduced to mere love interests, reminding the audience that straight is great, so don't deviate.

Now, if you're wondering where this post is coming from, you have Nina Simone to thank for that.  First off, Zoe Saldana has no business portraying this woman.  I love me some Zoe, I'm glad she's making her money and getting steady exposure, but despite her proud declaration of being a Black woman, Hollywood finds her "safe" enough to put in its movies, and thereby continue its quest to whiten damn near everybody.

Secondly, as Nina Simone's daughter has pointed out, her nurse Clifton Henderson was gay.  The film intends to portray the last eight years or so of her life, and for some reason, the PTB feel the need plug in a romantic subplot.  So now we have a damn biopic being blatantly rewritten so as to once again pointlessly portray heterosexual romance - why does there have to be a romance in this situation at all?

Writing 101, kids: "love interest" is not a "purpose."  It's not a role.  It can be a minor aspect of a fleshed-out, multidimensional character, but not their entire reason for existing.  If they don't contribute anything else to the central plotline, they need to be written the hell out.

And lastly, Hollywood needs to just friggin' deal.  Gays, like folks of color in general, are here.  They've always been here.  They're not going anywhere.  So let our gay actors come out publicly and portray themselves.  When the audience can see same-sex hugs and kisses that aren't stiff or uncomfortable or very carefully rehearsed, it'll lend movies a whole new level of credibility and respectability.  Stop orientation-bending already.

And lose the excessive romance.  We get it.  Heteros dig each other.  How nice it must be for them...when they're not divorcing each other in shameful rates, or cheating on each other after a needlessly expensive but at least God-sanctified wedding, or taking each other for granted, or constantly fleeing the kids they spawned during their wonderful, God-intended hetero sex.

*yawn*  We get it already. What else you got?

23 comments:

  1. I so love you for this doll.

    Now if you'll excuse me, I'm about to have sweet passionate gay sex with this entire post.

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    1. Oh, baby...take all the time you need.

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  2. I don't know which portion of this post I like the most. It's completely full of win.

    In other words, not only is Hollywood pushing back against the growing number of people of color in this country, the country's own origins of color, and the dominance of color abroad, Hollywood is pushing back against the increasingly visible and vocal gay population which is rightfully sick and tired of second-class citizenship.


    A to the MEN. I'm sick of LGBTQs being treated like second-class citizens. I'm sick of them being "straightened" or glossed over in movies, or outright ignored. I mean, come the fuck on already. WHAT ARE THEY AFRAID OF?

    Writing 101, kids: "love interest" is not a "purpose." It's not a role. It can be a minor aspect of a fleshed-out, multidimensional character, but not their entire reason for existing. If they don't contribute anything else to the central plotline, they need to be written the hell out.

    Ain't enough co-sign in the world. Every story doesn't require a love interest. I'm sure if I gave it some effort, I could go back over the past four years and examine every major movie HollyWTF produced and find a "love interest" subplot that was completely unnecessary. I've found myself rolling my eyes at movie screens an awful lot lately while making hurling motions.

    And lose the excessive romance. We get it. Heteros dig each other. How nice it must be for them...when they're not divorcing each other in shameful rates, or cheating on each other after a needlessly expensive but at least God-sanctified wedding, or taking each other for granted, or constantly fleeing the kids they spawned during their wonderful, God-intended hetero sex.

    If I have to see/hear about another romcom coming out of HollyWTF, I'll go screaming into the night. I mean, can we PLEASE get something fresh, new, creative...original?

    Might be too much to ask.

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    1. If I have to see/hear about another romcom coming out of HollyWTF, I'll go screaming into the night. I mean, can we PLEASE get something fresh, new, creative...original?

      AMEN.

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  3. Oh, and you know I write enough sex scenes to cover the both of us...*wink*

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    1. And you write them better than I do, so it works out great.

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  4. This brightened up my day in so many ways. You're the best. ;)

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  5. Amen a thousand times over, all of this

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  6. Leo Princess8/20/12, 12:56 AM

    Had just come home from a wedding when I read this. ^_^; Ditto, with a slice of, "Will you STOP with the remakes already?!".

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  7. K

    First:

    Awesome Post!

    Second:

    Why are whites lusting after our stories? Why can't they let us write our own lives? Antoine Fuqua wanted to do American Gangster but was shot down. Are they scared we'll tell the truth?

    And I do love Zoe but the reasoning for picking her is her ability to make whites "comfortable" by ever-so-gently reminding themselves of her Latin heritage.

    Why not ask an actual singer like Lauren Hill to portray her?

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  8. You ain't never lied, as far as this post goes.

    But when hasn't this been the case? As a queer Black female writer, I write romance because it is a desire of my own. Hollywood and its influential co-partners and co-signers whiten, bleach, straighten, trim and slim every thing and every one that's not meant to be a joke.

    I try to write what I want to see/read and I don't get discouraged or stalled because the media is making a billion-dollar mockery out of it. I get discouraged or stalled because people are actually supporting it. Living in multiple oppressed identities is difficult especially when you're trying to write about it and writing is surviving. To be fat. To be working class/poor. To be queer. To be female and/or gender queer. To be a survivor of abuse. I speak truths and fantasies with my writing.

    And its daunting to be faced with a public who would rather read or see stories about the able-bodied, the skinny, the "fit", the white/acceptably and safely whitened PoC, middleclass, the good ol' hetero. I've been socially conditioned to think of myself as invisible and unnecessary, and it reflects in how difficult it is for me to write the stories I want to read.

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    1. oh wow... THANK YOU for saying this

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    2. Brilliant.

      writing is surviving.

      You ain't neva lied.

      Writing is talking, it's storytelling. It's how we survive.

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  9. Amen, Ankensen Mie. This is why I don't support Hollywood because of their strong upper middle class white hetereosexual bias and whitewashing. Your post made my day!

    La Reyna(Stephanie Baldwin)

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  10. Thanks for all the love. I wasn't sure folks would get where I was coming from because this kinda came out of left field. When I read about Clifton Henderson's actual sexual orientation, it was soft of the last straw that broke the pygmy's back.

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    1. And newbies, grab a stool! Introduce yourselves and have your first drink on me!

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    2. WORD.

      As if enough wasn't ENUFF.

      Thank you for this post, K

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  11. I heard about this from another site. I think it was Davey D, but anyway, great post.

    I was disappointed with the casting call for Zoe to play Nina Simone, but I was also dismayed to hear about changing the sexual orientation of Clifton Henderson. I asked myself, "Why is that a necessity in planning out this movie that's supposed to be about her life?" But then, I realized two things: One, It's Hollywood whose obsession for heterosexual whiteness continues as if it hasn't been challenged. And two, the people behind the movie (Jimmy Iovine and Cynthia Mort) are white. The former is behind the content we see in the music industry today. Connect the dots.

    It's already been confirmed, and I know that this may be a flop to so many people. The thing is should we expect anything more from Hollywood? I'm not saying we shouldn't get frustrated by another Tinsel Town Turd, but this is all the more reason why we should - as we are currently doing now - tell our own stories. The mostly white, heterosexual owned business are telling their stories no matter how recycled, bland, offensive, or disillusioned they are. It's time we tell ours, and tell ours loud and proud.

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  12. THANK YOU. Just...thank you.

    Sincerely, a queer student who's also sick of everyone being "straightened."

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  13. This is yet another fine reason why I really don't like to give Hollywood any of my money. I would actually love to see larger proportions of PoC, especially those who are also LGBTQAI people completely boycott the products of the Hollywood mill for a while (maybe forever? I can but only dream).

    The method in which hetero relationships are typically portrayed on screen is such a huge turn off for me as a straight person, I can only imagine what kinds of messages that Queer moviegoers have to process and turn over in their minds, and possibly internalize, before they can even begin to enjoy a film. Straight relationships aren't usually portrayed without harmful misogynistic baggage, and they don't seem eager to do Queer relationships any justice either.

    Sidenote: While I do appreciate Ms. Saldana, I really wasn't thrilled about the decision to cast her as Nina Simone. She is being used as a "dark enough black woman" token prop for Hollywhite, I think, largely in part by her extremely delicate physique, which is definitely among the thinnest in the industry. When she had more weight to her ten+ years ago, she was not getting these kinds of roles. I hope that she understands that it's not *her* who's being piled on, but the casting decision made by the directors. Mind you, the producers never got a green light from Nina Simone's estate to go ahead with the film in the first place.

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    1. The method in which hetero relationships are typically portrayed on screen is such a huge turn off for me as a straight person, I can only imagine what kinds of messages that Queer moviegoers have to process and turn over in their minds

      For real. I find myself wondering all the time what gay viewers think whenever I watch some bullshit hetero relationship play out.

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  14. WOW! I cannot tell you how much I appreciate this. As a guy who is both Black and gay, I can't put into words how invisible I always feel. How left out, left behind, always on the fringe I feel. It makes you feel quite weary after a while. Whether it's because I'm Black, or if it's because I'm gay...I'm always either non-existent, done in a way that it totally inaccurate, or a very minor, unimportant presence at best. It kinda makes you feel inferior if you let it. This definitely made me smile...so thank you.

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